Alvin Gittins: Mormon Artist
Alvin Gittins was an art educator and a phenomenal portraitist. He was born on January 17, 1922, in Kidderminster, Worcester, England. He studied art at the Central School of Art in London and came to the United States to study art at Brigham Young University.
Gittins earned a BA degree from BYU in 1947, and the same year LeConte Stewart invited him to teach art at the University of Utah. He taught from 1947 to 1981. He became head of the art department after Stewart retired in 1956 and continued in that position until 1962. He was appointed artist-in-residence. He replaced Impressionism with Academic Realism.
During his career, he worked with oils, pastels, watercolors, charcoals, and pencil. He painted portraits of people associated with the University of Utah, community leaders, and portraits of leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he was a member. Perhaps most well known is his iconic portrait of the Prophet Joseph Smith. His work was exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Society of British Painters in London.
Gittins died on March 7, 1981. He was married to Gwendolen Ellis and they had four children.